JOHANNESBURG (AP) The Lions required a late penalty kick from Elton Jantjies to see off a typically spirited showing from the Jaguares in Super Rugby on Friday and tighten their grip on the Africa 2 conference.
Although they looked in control when they led 14-7 at halftime, the Lions conceded two tries in quick succession after the break and needed a dramatic rally to beat the Argentinian side 24-21 in Johannesburg.
The result made it a good day for teams from South Africa after the Southern Kings upset the New South Wales Waratahs for the first time 26-24 in Sydney.
The Waratahs led 17-7 at halftime but the Kings fought back to hand New South Wales its sixth loss in eight matches.
The ACT Brumbies lead the Australian conference, but have won only three of eight games after going down 56-21 to the Hurricanes in Napier on Friday.
None of the five Australian teams has a winning record.
The Kings, expected to be one of three teams axed from the competition next season, are in last place in the Africa 2 conference. Their win on Friday was only their second.
In Napier, Beauden Barrett created tries for center Vince Aso and winger Cory Jane to give the Hurricanes a 14-0 lead inside 12 minutes, hinting at an easy win over the Brumbies to whom they lost 52-10 last year before going on to win their first Super Rugby title.
The Hurricanes sat back on that lead and were shocked when the Brumbies scored three tries in six minutes, through center Tevita Kuridrani, captain Sam Carter, and scrumhalf Joe Powell, to take a 21-14 lead to halftime.
The Hurricanes came out strongly in the second half and Aso scored his second and third tries in the 46th and 52nd minutes, to give the Hurricanes a 28-21 lead as the Brumbies were reduced to 14 men by the sin-binning of flyhalf Wharenui Hawera.
Playing with renewed confidence, the Hurricanes followed up with two tries from replacement Callum Gibbins and another from lock Mark Abbott which followed his double in last week’s 28-24 win over the Auckland-based Blues.
Barrett then provided one last, brilliant assist with a cross-kick which set up the final try for center Ngani Leaumape. The try was converted, meaning that all 11 tries in the match – eight by the Hurricanes and three for the Brumbies – were converted and no kicks at goal were missed.
Jordie Barrett kicked seven out of seven for the Hurricanes, Otere Black converted Leaumape’s try, and Hawera kicked three from three for the Brumbies.
The Hurricanes’ 42 unanswered points in the second half improved their record to seven wins from eight matches.
In Sydney, the Waratahs looked on track for a bonus-point win after leading 17-0 with three first-half tries. But the Kings scored 26 consecutive points before the Waratahs earned an after-the-siren bonus point with a consolation try from Taqele Naiyaravoro.
Winger Naiyaravoro also opened the scoring with the first try of the night after Israel Folau tapped back a clever cross-field kick from Bernard Foley. Winger Rob Horne and fullback Cam Clark followed with length-of-the-field tries before the Waratahs’ second-half collapse.
”It was a pretty embarrassing performance from us,” Waratahs captain Michael Hooper said. ”There was a lot of talk, not much action. It’s going to be a tough weekend.”
The Jaguares threatened to give the Lions a similarly depressing weekend when tries from Rodrigo Baez and Guido Petti gave the Argentines a 21-14 lead heading into the final 10 minutes.
But a flurry of substitutions by Lions coach Johan Ackermann paid dividends when an Andries Coetzee counterattack led to Ruan Ackermann’s try, and Jantjies’ conversion drew the home side level.
The flyhalf then grabbed the opportunity to win the game when he landed a penalty with just three minutes remaining, giving the Lions a 10-point lead at the top of their conference, in which the Jaguares sit third.